Brochin urges state officials to deny Greene Turtle loan

State Sen. Jim Brochin of Towson this week joined a chorus of high-ranking officials who oppose a proposed state loan to help fund renovations to the Greene Turtle in Towson.

Brochin, whose District 42 includes the Towson area, wrote a letter on Wednesday to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp in which he asked the pair to reject the loan when it comes before the three-member state Board of Public Works next week.

"I do not believe it is in my constituents' best interest to use their tax dollars to fund an expansion and construction of a second-floor dining room for a bar in Towson," Brochin wrote in the letter.

The proposed loan, which represents just a portion of a financing package that also includes private funding, a bank loan, and a Baltimore County loan that has already been approved, is part of the state's Neighborhood Business Works program, which offers loans to businesses that need help with renovations or improvements.

An initial vote by the Board of Public Works, of which Governor Martin O'Malley is also a member, was delayed last month after Kopp and Franchot raised questions about whether giving money to the Greene Turtle was a proper use of the funds. Brochin, in an interview, agreed.

"Government's role shouldn't be to expand a bar," Brochin said. "I think it's an affront to every taxpayer in the district. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses that expand and create jobs all the time … that aren't asking for a nickel from the government."

The owners of the Greene Turtle in Towson did not respond to a request for comment, but in a previous interview, detailed plans to add a rooftop bar and renovate the interior of the space on York Road in Towson.

Brochin, however, said it's "bad public policy" for the government to be aiding businesses and wrote in the letter that "private businesses should succeed or fail on their own without a government subsidy."

"Once the state goes down the road of corporate welfare, there is no end game, and it becomes a matter of who has the best connections rather than who is the most worthy," he wrote. "In a time when our citizens are expressing great displeasure about the state's spending habits, I am confident that the Board can allocate these funds to more worthwhile programs and projects."

Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed reporting to this story.

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